Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Giving of Our Time

Galatians 6:9-10
So we must not get tired of doing good, for we will reap at the proper time if we don't give up.  Therefore, as we have opportunity, we must work  for the good of all, especially for those who belong to the household of faith.

     My greatest experience with the weariness, and joy of these verses came as a two-year-old Sunday School teacher. The attention span of a preschooler is about one minute per year of age, so trying to figure out if you actually taught anything in those two minutes is a miracle in itself. But there was one Sunday God showed me what a difference my time was making. A young little guy, who came on the church bus, had hardly said anything during the weeks before. As all the toddlers moved about, playing happily, he pointed to a picture on the wall and said "Jesus." My heart jumped inside my chest. JESUS...he knew the man in the picture was JESUS. Weeks of anxiety and the stress of wrestling toddlers, spending more time cleaning up toys than actually teaching or so it seemed, melted away with the sweetest name on earth...JESUS.
     Every day I am blessed to work with hundreds of volunteers. Whether its a church volunteer position or another organization, volunteering has its ups and downs. We all grow weary from time to time and wonder if we are really making a difference. A few quick notes:
  • The verses preceeding these command us to carry each others burdens...in other words to help others. God calls us to volunteer!
  • Listen to God's call regarding where you are to serve. Not everyone was called to a leadership position. Ask for guidance on where he wants you to serve.
  • God first, family second, church third, then everyone else. He expects us to have an intimate relationship with him. He expects us to take care of our family. Then other things fall into place. Don't let your volunteering stand in the way of number one and number two on this list, instead let it enhance those relationships.
  • Some people are natural "volunteers" and have the gift of service. Some are not and have to work at it. Some people are just waiting to be asked to volunteer. If you lead an organization, don't wait on volunteers or depend on those who say they will serve, seek opportunities to involve new people...and ask. If a "no" could kill you, I would have been dead a long time ago!
  • Don't ever serve out of obligation. I've done it...stayed in a position too long, or served because no one else would take the role. Not only are you doing a disservice to yourself, you are doing a disservice to others. The right person may not be in a leadership position because you are still there. You may be missing a blessing because the role in which you were intended to serve is not being filled because you won't let go of the one you are in.
  • Do not be weary in well doing. This is my favorite part of these verses during Relay Season. One day we will find the cure for cancer...and all the hard work and long hours will be worth it. One day we will be standing in heaven, looking around at smiling faces we served here on earth. Don't give up!
  • Serving others is not easy. People will let you down. You won't be recognized for your effort. You'll spend time wondering if it is all worth it. However its our duty, and our master set a great example for us. He came to this earth, suffered and died for us. As hard as serving others may seem at times, we're not called to sacrifice our lives.
  • If you happen to be one of my volunteers reading this...thank you so much!  I may not say it enough, but I thank God for each of you and the work you do.  I am blessed to serve with amazing people.
     Verse 9 reminds us we will reap at the proper time. Serving/volunteering has its rewards. One day we'll see the true fruits of our labors. Until then, we'll get gentle reminders...a young child speaking the name of Jesus, singing "Happy Birthday" to a cancer survivor knowing they have been gifted with another year, seeing a life become a child of Christ because you took the time to take them to church.
     May God lead you today to blessed service opportunities and show you the rewards of your time.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Prayer Whimp or Prayer Warrior?

Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks it will be opened.
Matthew 7:7-8 (ESV)

A great message from my pastor in his devotional yesterday morning about prayer. These verses tell us that if we ask, it will be given, and if we seek, we shall find.  In his message, he goes on to say if we aren't getting answers, we should pray even harder!  Jesus prayed until he sweated drops of blood.
I've been praying about something for an extended period of time.  I know its not a selfish prayer.  But I've prayed and I've prayed, and yet the doors I thought should lead to the path I was seeking keep closing in front of me.  I know its a prayer he will answer in time...but how long?

Reading these verses yesterday, I realized what a prayer whimp I am.  I've asked God to make things happen, but I am afraid if I tell him I REALLY want it, and its not his will, it will be a disaster.  So I haven't asked for it outright, face on the floor.  I've want it in my terms, fearing what his would mean. 

God never puts us in a situation that isn't for our best, and he never puts us through things that we can't endure, while we shape and mold into the end result of what he wants us to be.    

So thank you Pastor for reminding me not to fear asking God for the desires of my heart, and for reminding me he does answer.  Prayer warrior, face on the floor, asking without reservation for his will in my life...not being afraid to handle it...and reaping the glorious rewards he promises those who obey.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Exodous 33

Exodous 33
19 The Lord replied, “I will make all my goodness pass before you, and I will call out my name, Yahweh,2021 The Lord continued, “Look, stand near me on this rock. 22 As my glorious presence passes by, I will hide you in the crevice of the rock and cover you with my hand until I have passed by. 23 Then I will remove my hand and let you see me from behind. But my face will not be seen. before you. For I will show mercy to anyone I choose, and I will show compassion to anyone I choose. But you may not look directly at my face, for no one may see me and live.” ”

I had a good laugh reading this chapter.  Moses is preparing to lead the Israelites out of Egypt.  God plainly tells Moses he will not go with them because they are stubborn and rebellious, and he will surely kill them along the way.  Wow!  Its a wonder many of us today are still alive too...

Moses then asks God that if he will not go with them to show his presence.  God tells him to go to a rock and stand, and as he passes by, he places Moses in the crevice of the rock and covers him with his hand.  After he passes, he lets him see his back, for no one can stand to look upon his face.

I immediately thought to those dark times in my life.  God protected Moses by placing him between rocks!  How many times have we found ourselves between a rock and a hard place, afterward knowing it was for the best as God's plan was revealed?  Moses saw his glory afterward...so often do we.  But Moses was protected by God's hand.  Our Father stretches out his hand and covers us when we need it most.

God loves us, as stubborn and rebellious as we are.  He takes care of us, even in our own wilderness.  He is so magnificent we cannot even stand to look at him face to face.  Almighty God!